Thor: Ragnarok and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Taika Waititi
After the rather disappointing Thor: The Dark World (HOW DO YOU WASTE THE BEST DOCTOR WHO IN SUCH A BLAND VILLAIN ROLE!?) I wasn’t really looking forward to what they’d do with this character in his solo films and was more interested to see if he’d show up in a bunch of the other movies instead. Once those initial trailers hit with the heavy emphasis on fantastical Jack Kirby inspired designs and the rocking Led Zeppelin soundtrack, there seemed to be hope in this franchise digging itself out of the pit the sequel left it in. At the very least, it LOOKED a lot pretty with much more vibrant colors, and it even manages to drag Jeff Goldblum into the MCU which in and of itself would make this movie worthy of existing even if everything else ends up being awful. Does Thor’s third chance at the plate end up being one of the best films in the entire MCU, or did they just throw a lot of flash and money at a franchise that is just unable to find its place after telling the origin story? Let’s find out!!
The movie begins with Thor (Chris Hemsworth) trying to find out what the heck Ragnarok is which was hinted at ALL the way back in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Remember when he left the team to take a bath and saw some visions? Yeah, apparently it was all foreshadowing of the destruction of Asgard in a calamity known as Ragnarok, so Thor is basically trying to find a way to stop it… whatever it may be. In the meantime though, he manages to find out that Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has taken the place of Odin (Anthony Hopkins) who is actually alright as Loki basically stuck his ass in a retirement home on Earth, but when Thor goes down there to bring him back to the throne it turns out that he’s all out of time and disappears in a cloud of energy or something. If that wasn’t bad enough, it turns out that one of the things he was doing when he was alive was keeping a hereto unknown daughter of his named Hela (Cate Blanchett) in some sort of magic prison which breaks as soon as he’s dead and so she’s come back for revenge against her family and all of Asgard. Both Loki and Thor are dealt with rather quickly with the latter losing his famed hammer Mjolnir and landing on some mystery planet where he is captured by a mysterious woman (Tessa Thompson) and dragged to the planet’s ruler known as THE GRANDMASTER (Jeff Goldblum). The once mighty God of Thunder and son of Odin is now put in chains and is forced to fight in gladiatorial matches in order to somehow earn his freedom and eventually find his way back home before Hela puts it inextricably under her vengeful thumb. Can Thor find a way to escape the barbaric society run by the most fabulous of dictators? What familiar faces will he find on this planet that can hopefully help him on his journey home? How the heck is Thor gonna get around now that he doesn’t have his magic propeller hammer!?
“THE GOD OF THUNDER DOESN’T NEED A HAMMER! I JUST NEED TO FLAP MY ARMS REALLY FAST!!” “Okay… well good luck with that!”
Doctor Strange and all the images you see in this review are owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Directed by Scott Derrickson
So on the one hand, I don’t’ really have any love for Doctor Strange as a character, and I’m still a bit salty that they didn’t cast Hugh Laurie in the role which I have been fan casting since the film first got announced all the way back in what, the beginning of phase two? On the other hand I’ve been a fan of C Robert Cargill as a film critic all the way back in the good ol’ days of Spill, so there is a part of me that wants this to succeed just because I like that ONE GUY. Then again it’s a Marvel movie, so it’s going to succeed anyway. LOOK! It’s complicated, alright!? I don’t put myself is some sort of cryogenic fridge between movies so my “precious objectivity” is working at peak efficiency! Actually, I should probably look into that and see if I can skip most of the next four years… ANYWAY! Does Doctor Strange deliver on all the weird fun that the trailers are promising, or is this another cookie cutter entry in the ever expanding Marvel canon? Let’s find out!!
The movie follows Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) who is a world renounce Neurosurgeon with an ego the size of Hulk’s biceps and ends up smashing the hell out of his car while texting. Fortunately, the only part of his body that was harmed was his hands, but unfortunately he can’t be neurosurgeon if he can’t even pick up a pencil. Now instead of starting a diagnostics department and act super snarky to his subordinates, he instead blows his fortune trying to get his hands fixed to no avail while also pushing away his only real friend Christine (Rachel McAdams) due to his increasingly bitter outlook on life. His last resort is this temple in Kathmandu Nepal which healed someone else with even worse debilitating injuries and finds someone to take pity on him in the form of Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor) who takes him to see THE ANCIENT ONE (Tilda Swinton). She blows the puny human’s mind away with what can only be described as a drug trip, but I think the implication is that she just gave him a small taste of what the universe has to offer, and she begrudgingly takes him on as a disciple despite his arrogance and penchant for being whiney. Of course, there might be ANOTHER reason why she wants at least one more meat shield training at their monastery. You see, the LAST prized pupil of The Ancient One was some jerk named Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) who’s now trying to do some bad stuff and will probably be coming for her bald ass soon enough, so the more bodies on hand to absorb energy blasts, the better. Will Stephen Strange find what he is looking for in the teachings of the ancient one? What is Kaecilius after and why is he so pissed about everything? Seriously, what the hell were they smoking when they were making this?
“Far out, bro!” “We REALLY need to keep moving. THEY’RE SHOOTING MAGIC BEAMS AT US!”
Black Mass and all the images you see in this review are owned by Warner Bros. Pictures
Directed by Scott Cooper
We’re finally in Oscar season, right? I mean Straight Outta Compton was a huge hit, but this is the first one that Hollywood studios are actually pushing for some Academy nods. We’ve got a big name actor playing a dark character in an organized crime biopic! Hell, the only way it could have more Oscar appeal is if it was set in World War 2! Still, Hollywood doesn’t always get it right when the make big Oscar films (look no further than The Judge from last year) and Johnny Depp has had a PRETTY hard time of it lately (again, look no further than Transcendence from last year). Will this movie be the critical hit that Johnny Deep needs at this point in his career, or will this biopic get lost in the shuffle once the other big films of the season start coming out in earnest? Let’s find out!!
The movie is about James “Whitey” Bulger (Johnny Depp) who rose to the top of the Boston crime world due to the fact that was an FBI informant and was getting protection from them as he helped them take down the Italian mob. Once the Italian’s were out the way though, Whitey became just as big a nuisance for the city, only HE had a federal organization who was at least somewhat hesitant to reveal their own involvement with him so he ran pretty much rampant for a good twenty years (1975-1995). Presumably the story is a lot more complex with a lot more people involved, but for this movie the main players are Whitey himself, his brother Billy (Benedict Cumberbatch) who was the President of the Massachusetts senate at the time, and John Connolly (Joel Edgerton) who grew up with Whitey and became the FBI agent that got him involved as an informant. Needless to say that having these three working together (to some capacity) creates a neigh unstoppable force as each party is protecting the other to some extent and the trio (John less so than the rest who seems to be a SOMEWHAT legitimate politician) make a WHOLE lot of money. The gravy train can’t ride forever though as the rest of the world starts to close in and Whitey’s actions become more erratic over time. Will these men get the comeuppance they deserve, or will they be able to escape whatever’s coming after to them once they take things too far? Well it’s a biopic so you can look up the answers right now, but then why would you want to spoil the fun?